Traditionally, one of the signs of prosperity in America has been the ability to buy a bigger home. Master bedroom suites, multiple walk-in-closets, huge kitchens and spacious rooms have become standard for many households. The median size of a single-family home built in 2012 was about 2,309 square feet, according to the National Association of Home Builders, compared to a median of 1,920 square feet in 1995.

But now, the “Tiny House Movement” is going in the opposite direction. Driven by the idea that smaller houses are a better alternative, more and more people are losing their appetite for large houses.

What is the Tiny House Movement?

The Tiny House Movement is the label given to this recent social trend, where “tiny houses” are usually 100 to 400 square feet. They include a bathroom, kitchen and all the basics for any single-family home — in a highly condensed space. Constructed on a permanent foundation or hitched to trailers, these homes are also energy efficient, low maintenance and easy to clean.

The Athens Banner-Herald recently wrote about a Lamar County family that built a 258 square-foot house. Andrew and Crystal Odom, along with their daughter, have a loft, baby crib and high-quality stove in their tiny house. In the Banner-Herald, Odom noted that getting a loan to buy a bigger house could mean a 30-year commitment, and “if something happened to my job or my income, we’d be saddled to that house.” The smaller space also means the family doesn’t have to spend money filling it with furniture, and the Odoms believe a smaller house will help build closer family relationships, too.

In another case, a man from greater Atlanta built his mother a tiny house after she lost hers in a hurricane. Now, Dan Louche operates Tiny Home Builders, which is helping spread the idea of “tiny living” to more people.

Market growing for smaller houses

The tiny house segment is still viewed as a “fringe” section of the housing market, but many people are warming to the idea that bigger isn’t necessarily better.

The nation’s evolving demographics, such as more single-person households, downsizing baby boomers and recent college graduates, have fueled the demand for small homes, according to some housing experts. They also offer privacy for seniors who want to live independently but stay near an adult child.

Real estate advisers note that smaller houses have a lot of advantages: They’re less costly to heat and cool, don’t take nearly as long to clean and maintain, and simply cost less to buy than larger homes. People like the Odoms and Louche also point to other advantages. They argue that a smaller house makes it easier to live simply; you’re less likely to accumulate unnecessary possessions with a small house.

You might be ready to join the Tiny House Movement and downsize to a couple hundred square feet — but even if that sounds a bit too extreme, you always have the option to simply minimize your living situation.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons